Google wants to be your go-to guy for online media, and is inching closer to the launch a paid YouTube subscription service, according to reports.
But can YouTube, which has mostly been free and fed by advertising dollars, function as a pay service? And can Google acquire content rich enough to compete with Amazon, Netflix, and others?
The New York Post references unnamed Hollywood executives who said that the streaming video-on-demand service will be launched first in Europe, with emphasis on the UK, before expanding to the US.
The streaming video market in the UK is still in its infancy and is led by the Netflix-like LoveFilm, which was recently acquired by Amazon. But in the US, streaming video is massive, and a for-pay YouTube would compete against Amazon's new Prime streaming, Netflix, Hulu Plus and others.
Google is reportedly spending in excess of $100 million to nab quality content, but some providers aren't thrilled with Google's lax treatment of copyright infringement and piracy. Though Google is taking forceful steps against piracy, recently blacklisting bittorrent sites from its Instant results, those may not be enough for major content providers to trust Google with its dollars.
But don't hold your breath for a paid YouTube. This rumour has been bouncing around for an eternity.
Also, a Google rep flat-out denied the plans to Next Web" href="http://thenextweb.com/google/2011/02/25/google-reportedly-planning-netflix-style-youtube-subscription-movie-service/" target="_blank">The Next Web: "Today, YouTube is focused on building out and improving its current US-based rental offering. While we aim to always push all of our products out globally to our community, we have no plans to launch a European rentals service in the near future."